Some Lenten Thoughts…
Growing up, I looked at Lent as simply a time to give something up to prepare for Easter and remember Christ’s sacrifice. Some years, we were meatless on Fridays. Some years, I gave up candy or some other trifle. Whatever it was, I saw Lent has an incredibly sad and depressing season. It was time to reflect and remember what a sinner I was. Looking back, those are not bad things, but I feel recently I’ve been given a better view of Lent.
Before I get to my new view, I want to offer a brief history/biblical look at Lent.
Biblically, Lent is modeled from Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, denying Himself and being tested in preparation for His ministry. He’s not the only one who had this experience. Moses was 40 years old when he rushed to the desert to get away from his problems in Egypt. God gave him 40 years in the desert to prepare him for his next big assignment…going back to Egypt so that God could use him to free the Israelites. David of the Old Testament and Paul of the New Testament both spent time in the desert between when they were called and when they fully fulfilled their call.
Historically, Lent was used as a time of preparation. For some, it meant the final preparation for baptism after a long three years during which they learned the catechism. For some, it meant true repentance for “notorious” sinners, so that they could be welcomed back into the church.
Onto my new view. Several Lenten seasons ago, God showed me that I/we (my family) have been through multiple desert/Lenten experiences, and most of them did not coincide with the calendar’s Lenten season. God used those times to draw us closer to Him, to prepare us for new ministry, and to refine us as He saw fit. With that in mind, God gave me permission to be joyful during Lent! For me, it was such a freeing moment!
I now appreciate my true desert/Lenten experiences more and use my calendar Lenten experience in a better way. The last few Lenten seasons, I have taken to writing a card each day letting someone know that I am praying for them. And I made sure I did pray for them! One year, it was the same person. One year, it was whomever God gave me in the morning. Another year, it was a different person within a group of people.
Have you had a desert experience that is a true Lent – a season of preparation, learning, growing? How does God want you to use Lent this year? Is He preparing you for something? Is He challenging you to grow? To simple seek Him wholeheartedly? To be joyful?
“Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people. You know that it is from the Lord that you will receive the inheritance as a reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you are serving!” — Colossians 3:23-24